ONE of the quietest corners of the borough, Perivale was also the birthplace of acclaimed playwright, screenwriter and novelist Derek Marlowe.
It was also the place, along with Greenford, where he would grow up before embarking on a hugely prolific career that would see him produce everything from paintings to novels and award-winning screenplays.
Educated at Cardinal Vaughan Secondary School in Holland Park he would go on to attend Queen Mary College at the University Of London in order to study English literature but would later go on to call it the unhappiest period of his life. He never finished his degree course as he was expelled but would maintain close links with the college’s theatre group, which went on to form its own company called the 60 Theatre Group. Marlowe would play the male lead in its production of Tennessee Williams’ play ‘Summer and Smoke’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The group gave him the chance to flex his playwriting chops and he adapted Leonid Andreyev’s story ‘The Seven Who Were Hanged’ for the stage. Once again, the production would be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe before later making it to a theatre festival in Croatia in the early 1960s. In London, it would be performed as ‘The Scarecrow’ and win an award.
Marlowe also got to rub shoulders with some crucial figures in British literature during the early stages of his career, even going so far as to share a flat for a time with the writers Piers Paul Read and Tom Stoppard.
In 1966, Marlowe published his first novel, ‘A Dandy In Aspic’, for which he got the idea after his travels around Europe. He hit the ground running and the book was a bestseller. He would go on to write a further nine novels, covering everything from spies to the supernatural. He also produced a semi-autobiogaphical novel, ‘Do You Remember England’, in 1972.
Marlowe was no stranger to film. He wrote adapted ‘A Dandy In Aspic’ into a screenplay, though he was unhappy with the finished product when it became a feature film.
He was met with great acclaim for his work on the 1971 BBC TV series ‘The Search For The Nile’. The four episodes he wrote earned him an Emmy as well as a Best British Documentary Script award from the Writers Guild Of Great Britain.
He worked on two scripts for ‘The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes’, starring Jeremy Brett as the great detective, and co-wrote an adaptation of the Jack The Ripper story, starring Michael Caine as a detective in London’s East End, in 1988.
Following a divorce in 1985, he would eventually move to Los Angeles to work on scripts for television but tragically, his life was cut short.
It was in LA that he contracted Leukaemia, and he would die on November 14, 1996, after he suffered a brain haemorraghe in the aftermath of a liver transplant. He was 58 years old.
He achieved much in his lifetime, leaving behind a stack of books and screenplays, though there are some tantalising glimpses of what might have been, had he lived.
Marlowe wrote a number of screenplays that went unfilmed, among them an alternate draft for the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. He also worked on a screenplay set during the Crusades, entitled The Knight, about a knight seeking revenge against the people who killed his family.
The film was set to a big-budget epic, shooting in locations including Englang, Ireland and France. None other than Ridley Scott, the acclaimed director of such films as Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator, was attached to direct. Sadly, the project never came to be.
Marlowe’s final work which saw the light of day after his death was a script for popular TV detective series Murder She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury.
Giving advice to young aspiring writer, Marlowe wrote: “Remember books last longer than reviews and the most boring part is typing the damn thing afterwards and planning beforehand. Never think too hard about what you are going to write – just jump in.”